Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lodge Moor, Redmires, and Whirlow Bridge

The number 51 bus was ten minutes late today: during the thirty minutes I was therefore waiting for it on Arundel Gate in Sheffield nearly a dozen number 120 buses going to Crystal Peaks must have passed me - they seem to be everywhere in the city centre.

I rode on the bus all the way to the terminus at Lodge Moor and then took the path which leads northwards and downhill into Fox Hagg Nature Reserve. After a few minutes I turned left and headed towards the Peak District. The path remained quite high and I had occasional glimpses of the Rivelin Dams through the dense silver birch woods, which had now nearly lost all their leaves.

I reached the furthest west point of the walk, and was briefly inside the boundary of the National Park for a few hundred yards, in an area that I know as Redmires; local Sheffield people might call it by another name though. I came up from the woods, crossed over Redmires Road and walked along Soughley Lane - I don't know which pronunciation is correct, a quick look at the Google search results didn't help.

I walked in an easterly direction along Brown Hills Lane, passed Bole Hill, where I got a decent photograph a bit further on, and then turned right at Bennett Grange.

I then turned left down a very narrow enclosed lane where I would have had a lot of trouble if a car had been needing to use the road at the same time, fortunately none did.

I arrived at a small group of buildings which isn't named on the Ordnance Survey map; there's a Methodist Church, an old school which is now an environmental study centre, a postbox, and a row of cottages a few yards away down the lane I took, identified as 'Workhouse Cottages' - I've not come across this term before; maybe this being a rural area, these cottages were used as the actual parish workhouse. I'm quite interested in workhouses; I was actually born in one: in truth it was a local hospital by that time...but if no-one asks for clarification, I don't volunteer the additional information.

I continued to walk across farmland pastures until I reached the Porter Valley at Clough Lane. There's a waterfall here with a drop of about eight foot, after the recent heavy rain it was looking quite impressive today. As usual my camera's automatic settings couldn't cope with the fast moving water, and I couldn't cope with the camera's manual settings.

It was quite sunny when I reached Forge Dam Cafe; there had been a couple of light showers earlier though. I went inside although there were people sitting outside, and it was pleasantly warm. I ordered a cooked breakfast; I thought it was a bit more expensive than the last time I visited a couple of years particular, £2 for a mug of tea is a bit much.

It was raining again when I left the cafe, quite a bit heavier this time and so I got a chance to wear my new trapper's was very warm; probably too warm for a mild day in October. The sun was shining again only a few minutes later though, and this was the best weather of the walk. I found the path that I was looking for that leads uphill towards Cottage Lane. I kept stopping to admire the spectacular views of the western suburbs of Sheffield behind me, spotlit by the sun and framed by a complete semi-circle rainbow: I took several dozen photographs, and here are the best two.

In my enthusiasm to get the best camera angles I lost the track of the path and had to climb over a wall to get onto another path, which fortunately would take me in approximately the same direction.

I stopped to eat some chocolate, sitting on a bench with a nice view towards the city centre. It was right next to horse chestnut tree and conkers were regularly falling about me; one landed on my left shoulder and another landed on my right boot; no damage young boys excited by this easy bounty though either. Do children still play conkers now?

It was a short stretch of road, then a short cut across some fields and I was at the covered reservoir on Ringinglow Road. The path then went dead straight across grassy fields for a few hundred yards; I was quite high up here again and the visibility was good - the horizon was populated by power station cooling towers and several dozen wind turbines glinting in the sunlight - you'd think the cost of electricity in Yorkshire would be relatively cheap compared to other parts of the country; we certainly seem to generate a lot of it.

I had some steep steps to climb down to reach the bottom of the Limb Valley; by the time I'd reached the well-maintained bridleway going alongside the river it had started raining again. I had intended to finish today's walk at Abbeydale, but it was clear that I'd already had the best of the weather and I couldn't imagine that I'd be missing out on anything by not walking through Ecclesall Wood in the rain.

I got to the bus shelter on Ecclesall Road just as the number 272 bus from Castleton was arriving; it looked like that it had been delayed by a couple of cyclists that it couldn't get past.

Perfect timing for me!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Foolow, Eyam, and Bretton rained all day; quite a bit heavier than forecast too. If I hadn't made plans to meet Chris and Simon today I wouldn't have been walking any further than the kitchen or the bathroom. As it was though, as usual I was at Fox House just before ten o'clock to meet my walking companions. It was only Chris who turned up in the car though; maybe Simon had already read the weather forecast.

We drove down to Foolow and parked on the green [not literally] and set off across the fields towards Eyam. The rain was making it difficult for me to see the footpath and the the stiles, and so I got slightly lost. I headed for Tideswell Lane, a wide track, having to climb over a wall...but it wasn't difficult. In one of the fields we walked through we noticed an owl flapping about on the ground. It was obviously injured; a broken wing most likely. We wondered what we should do for a few seconds, but both soon decided to just let nature take its course.

We reached Eyam and walked down the main street to reach the information barn: a few minutes respite from the rain. Another opportunity to escape from the rain was provided by the church. Chris wasn't that interested in the displays inside about the plague, and I had seen them all before, so we didn't stay long...Simon would have read every word on the display boards.

It was a bit of a slog uphill to reach Eyam Moor and then Bretton Clough. It was an awful day for photography with very poor visibility and hardly any daylight. This is the only decent photograph I took, just as we were descending into the clough; I rarely took my camera out of its case.

In the bottom of the clough we found a bit of shelter under an ash tree, where we ate our sandwiches. There was a lot of sheep droppings about, and an obvious smell - I think that Chris was a lot less comfortable than I was at this point.

We climbed up to Bretton and then walked along the road back down to Foolow. On the way back to Hathersage, where Chris dropped me off because it's more convenient, we stopped at the café at Calver crossroads. It's under new management since the last time I visited; the menu seems to be pretty much the same, but I think the prices are slightly higher.

I ordered a large pot of tea and a scone; Chris had crumpets.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bradwell and Castleton.

Not a very long walk today, only about three miles, plus exploring the back streets of Castleton and storming Peveril Castle at the top of the hill. I had planned to walk from Bradwell over to Peak Forest and then loop back to Tideswell, but I left my map on the bus after I had left it on the seat and it must have dropped onto the floor. I was fairly confident of actually making my way along my planned route from memory, but less confident about the pacing; I needed to get to Tideswell for about 3:20 to catch the bus back to Sheffield, otherwise I'd have a long wait or a long walk down to the main road at Blackwell crossroads to catch the TransPeak bus to Bakewell.

Back at Sheffield it must have been the start of the new term at Sheffield Hallam University; there were about a dozen coaches parked on both sides of the road near to my bus-stop, where the Students' Union building is. The only way I could make sure that the driver of the 272 bus could actually see me was to step out right in front of him and semaphore where there was a small gap between coaches where I'd be able to get on his bus.

The footpath which I used at the start of the walk at Bradwell is a bit unusual because it goes right across the bottom of a garden and then up some steep steps which are almost hidden from view if you're walking along the pavement.

I know the paths leading westwards and uphill out of Bradwell well and so didn't realise that I'd left my map on the bus until it was probably too late to rush back down to the village and retrieve it from the bus as it returned to Sheffield; anyhow with it being a Sunday I'm not even sure that all the buses serve Bradwell.

I decided to just walk to Castleton on the high level back lanes; there were some good distant views of Win Hill to be enjoyed...and then later on Castleton itself, nestling beneath Mam Tor.

At one stage I was near to the top of a quite long uphill stretch and a cyclist easily overtook me. He stopped at the top, and so did I a couple of minutes later; myself for a rest and he to wait for his friend who was a long way behind. We started chatting and he explained that he was taking his friend to do Winnats Pass later, one of the longest and steepest road ascents in the Peak District...poor bugger! 

When I reached Castleton it seemed to be rather quiet despite a fell race due to finish there mid-afternoon. I decided to pop into the Rose Cottage Café and Tea Rooms for something to eat; I chose a fish pie from the menu and enjoyed it outside in the sunshine in the large, well-maintained rear garden; I could  certainly taste the cod, smoked haddock, salmon, and prawns.

About forty minutes later, not too far from the castle entrance, I nearly tripped up over the only pair of cat's eyes placed in the middle of the road in Castleton.

I reached the castle unscathed. I didn't have to pay the admission fee because I'm a member of English Heritage and so I could justify the short length of time I spent there; just taking photographs really.

I then had about thirty minutes to wonder around the village before catching the bus. There are many attractive buildings in Castleton; I particularly liked this one today.